Saturday, August 20, 2016

Whether weather

My goodness - we got RAIN!  Tons of rain.  Rain upon rain.

After an amazingly dry summer, we got about 6 inches of rain this week.

The AgroExpo (put on by AgroLiquid in St Johns) even had to cancel the last day because while the first two days went really well ... it was hard to fight against that much rain.  Everyone joked that they should've held it in July when we were desperate.  We were happy we got to go the first two days, aynThe picture below is from the AgroExpo Facebook page:


CEO of U.S. Farmers & Rancher Alliance Randy Krotz and USFRA staff Katie Foster were coming to it, and also came to tour the farm!  It was great to be able to talk with them and show them around.



We welcomed heifer #171.  The weaned ones (above picture) are outside on pasture.



And, we talk a lot about technology and how things have changed.  Here's a change that delights us. We have a weather station on our property and you can CHECK IT BY PHONE!  For instance, today we were gone, and I asked Kris if it was raining at home.  He checked his little phone app and it told us everything at home - how much it had rained in the last 12 hours, the last 24 hours, the rainfall rate in the last month and year ... Oh, the joy this phone app brings!  The science, the technology, the knowledge of it all!

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There were also puddles when we got home.  So that was a pretty good clue, too.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Smithsonian 'Ask a Farmer'

I enjoyed doing a virtual question and answer session at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, so when they asked me to do a real-life one - and bring my mom - I was even more excited.

The theme for Ask a Farmer was 'Family Farms, Family History'.  The promotion said, "Meet farmers whose land and farms have been in their family for generations, and join us for a live panel discussion with these family farmers on history, agriculture, and the future; moderated by Susan Evans McClure, Smithsonian Food History Program Director."

The other panelists were Brenda Frketich and her dad Paul Kirsch, nut and grass farmers in Oregon, and Leighton Cooley and his dad Larry, who are chicken farmers in Georgia.

My mom and I walked all over DC to see the monuments, and even ate lunch in the Dept of Agriculture cafeteria, because that seemed super fitting.

It was so great meeting with everyone at dinner - including our moderator Susan and Katharine Mead, who did the virtual event.  Funny, smart, interesting people.

For instance, there's so much I don't know about being a seed farmer!  Did you know that the companies have to get together and decide - together - what's being grown where so the produce doesn't cross pollinate?  That's a lot of cooperation and organization.

We went to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and readied for the program.  Look what was right next to our stage!

My friend Alicia even came all the way from Maryland to see it!  Here we are in the Smithsonian kitchen -

So we knew we had one audience member ... as we started, people filled in, including a class of little kids.  We had a really great discussion, well-moderated by Susan, and then the audience asked questions.  Two questions were my favorite - one little kid asked, "How do worms move through dirt?" and another asked, "Are farmers allowed to visit the farms of other farmers?"  There were also adult questions - like about generational conflict, herd management, sustainability, and what we see for our farms' futures.

The Smithsonian videotaped it all and will be sharing clips from it soon.  It was an enjoyable, interesting, and hopefully informative program.  Thanks to the Smithsonian and U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance for all their work making this and other similar programs possible.  (If only everyone in DC worked together this well!)


Meanwhile, back on the farm, Kris and the guys got the hay done and the pile covered!  Ahh ... another cutting in the books.  We're still having calves left and right, but it's August and the slowdown is in sight.  The cows are loving the cooler weather, and as a result they're giving more milk!  It was so cool last night that I had to put on a jacket ... which is definitely indicative of weather cattle prefer.  And even cooler to come!

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hello August

Well, it's summer!  Around here that means calving, harvesting, and hoping for rain.  The heat has been tough on the cows and we're doing our best to always keep them cool and comfortable.  Kris' latest thing is that he hooked up a soaker hose above them to mist them before they come into the parlor.  The fans blow on their wetted backs to give them an additional way to cool off.  We're hot too - we know how they feel!

For us and for all the farmers in our area, we had a different routine this year.  Usually, you harvest your alfalfa (hay) every three weeks.  But for the second cutting ... there was nothing to cut.  It didn't rain that whole time and nothing really grew back.  So we waited an additional week (like lots of people), and it did rain almost an inch during that time.  So Kris started the hay this week and ... there's something there.  Not a lot, but as we keep saying ... better than nothing!

Summer for us also means we get lots of visitors.  Our family comes, friends come from all over, and we get our annual visit from the Northwest A&F University of China.  This year 28 of the 30 students were female, and I absolutely loved their reaction to seeing the kittens, hearing my boys were twins, seeing a calf suck on my son's finger, and meeting Kris.  Each time it was, "Awww!"  It was delightful.



A strange thing happened yesterday - a cow in the parlor ran into the wall on her way out - and the wall got damaged!  We had the builder and mason out to look at it today, but I told Kris that I'd much rather they put in a huge observation window.  It'd make it so much easier for all of these friends we have coming!  (I realize this is not the point of the parlor, but it would be nice.)

So, hello August!  I hope these can be used for rain soon.

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